I was a financial manager in my late 20’s when the CEO of my company at the time went on a witch hunt. We all knew what was at the root of it: a key group of leaders in our organization had not been set up for success. The natural tensions across functions which, when well-managed, help a company optimize its results, were grossly out of whack and results were tanking. It was a failure of leadership which went straight to the top, but naturally the CEO didn’t see it that way. Somebody had to be the scapegoat, and he chose the group where the most noise was coming from, through no fault of theirs. A management consultant was brought in to diagnose and report back to him what the group’s problems were.
In my interview, the consultant/psychologist asked me questions about myself to get started. I gave him my background, which must have included the fact that I completed my bachelor’s degree in three years. He then asked me a perceptive question I could not answer then, nor have I been able to in the 20 years since: What was my hurry? The question stuck with me precisely because I could not answer it. I only know that for as long as I can remember, I have always been in a hurry, with a high energy level that I can’t explain. It’s interesting to see the same trait in my oldest daughter. She has only two speeds: highly active and asleep. My husband doesn’t understand why neither one of us can just relax. I don’t either, though I’ve gotten better at it over the years. It has its upside in that I get a ton done, both at work and at home. But the downside is definitely bad – I can wear myself out and sometimes crowd out time with the people in my life to get stuff done. That last part bothers me the most.
I’ve always wondered what that consultant reported back to the CEO. I shared with him my perspective, that the group in question was in a tough spot. I got the sense from his body language that he knew it. But he, too, was in a tough spot: the truth would not have been welcome to our CEO, his paying customer. The CEO was eventually fired, but not before bringing our company a lot of heartache. I guess everything we do catches up with us at some point. I suppose I’ll just keep working hard to slow down and let the rewards of a less hurried life catch up to me.
“The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.” –George Eliot